Piano Cloud - Volume One
No one should be too surprised to see a collection of acoustic piano pieces being issued by 1631 Recordings. After all, one of the label's co-founders is David Wenngren (Kning Disk label overseer Mattias Nilsson the other), who's been making memorable music under the Library Tapes alias for more than a decade, much of it piano-based. Wenngren contributes a fine Library Tapes piece (“Running by the Roads, Running by the Fields”) to the compilation, as do an impressive number of kindred spirits, Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick, Hior Chronik, and Schole main man Akira Kosemura among them.
Endless Melancholy is also one of the contributors, but the moniker could just as easily be used as a title for the compilation as a whole. Nostalgic, wistful moods predominate, and consequently Piano Cloud - Volume One achieves a remarkable degree of cohesiveness, even though many artists take part. Strengthening that impression of unanimity is the minimal approach shared by the contributors: the style of piano playing is generally of the stripped-down variety, and it's rare for the listener to be drowned by a sea of notes. It's telling that when a piece does distance itself from the others, it does so less for reasons of musical style than ambient design, as happens when atmospheric noises find their way into Lucy Claire's “Kaiwata tsuki - The Barren Moon.” That being said, Joep Beving does separate his piece from the others by investing his ruminative “A Hunger for the New” with a bluesy feel.Though Frahm opens the set with a characteristically lovely setting of delicate, dream-like splendour, it's nice to see him bringing some welcome levity to the project by titling his piece “Nils has a New Piano.” Delicacy characterizes other cases, too, among them Oskar Schuster's softly sparkling “Singur,” Gabriela Parra's “Olopte's Lullaby,” Kosemura's “Farewell,” and Stray Ghost's “Two Steps Too Often Aside (Early Variation I).” In addition, Broderick, Anna Rose Carter, and Heinali contribute resplendently chiming settings, “Eyes Closed and Traveling,” “Unstitch,” and “Soft like Snow,” respectively. Though there's a generous amount of music included—twenty pieces in total—most are in the three-minute range, resulting in a comprehensive hour-long recording that isn't so long the digital release wears out its welcome.